Grand designs for design policy: Associations between apartment policy standards, perceptions of good design and mental wellbeing

Sarah Foster, Paula Hooper, Gavin Turrell, Clover Maitland, Billie Giles-Corti, Alexandra Kleeman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Comprehensive apartment design policies have been legislated by Australian state governments to address concerns about poor design in residential buildings. These policies aim to improve apartment design and promote good health. This study examined whether: (1) residents living in apartments that implemented more minimum design requirements perceived better apartment design and amenity; and (2) increased implementation of minimum requirements and better perceptions of design were associated with positive mental wellbeing. Apartment complexes (n = 114, built 2006–2016) were sampled from Sydney, Perth, and Melbourne. Building plans and elevations were used to measure and score apartments for their implementation of 96 quantifiable policy-specific requirements and residents (n = 1072) completed a self-report survey on their apartment design and health. Multi-level linear regression models were used to account for clustered data. Residents in apartments with greater implementation of requirements for solar and daylight, indoor space, private open space, communal space and parking had more positive perceptions of their apartment in terms of natural light and winter thermal comfort, indoor space and layout, private open space, communal area quality, and parking, respectively (all p < 0.05). Perceptions of natural ventilation, summer thermal comfort, indoor space, and communal area quality were independently associated with positive mental wellbeing (all p < 0.05), but the objective implementation scores had no direct association. When implemented as intended, minimum requirements had a positive impact on perceptions of design, which were associated with mental wellbeing. The study underscores the importance of planning instruments and design review processes that increase industry uptake of minimum policy standards.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101301
JournalSSM - Population Health
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


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